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The 5 Types of People You’ll Meet At A Trade Show

For trade show marketers, working a booth has one main goal: gather leads. Sure, sales are great, and networking is nice, but gathering a list of prospective buyers makes a day at a trade show worth it. During your hours working a trade show, you’ll meet hundreds — perhaps thousands — of people, all who have differing levels of interest in your product or service. Whether you’re attending your first trade show or your fiftieth, you’ll meet lots of interesting people.

The Tire Kicker

Like the family out car shopping on a spring day just to get out of the house, the tire kicker stops by your booth out of pure curiosity and to kill some time before the next breakout session or demo. Tire kickers are attracted by fun graphics or flashy interactive features in your booth but has no expectations about his experience and no objectives. You’ll know the tire kicker because he will walk leisurely around your setup, hands in pockets and lost in thought, and may wander out just as quickly.

The Trick-or-Treater

It’s all treats for this trade show visitor, who is in it for the freebies. Trick-or-Treaters are on the hunt for the very best giveaway promo items from each booth, but aren’t necessarily visiting to learn about the product or service (although they may stay long enough to say hello and listen to your spiel as they snatch a free pen from your table.) You’ll know the Trick-or-Treater by the branded tote bag bulging with company logo key chains and notepads and the lightening-fast personal record speed with which they leave your booth after claiming their prized promo.

The Information Gatherer

On a thrill seeking mission to find the best product at the most competitive price (and cut a deal while he’s at it), the Information Gatherer’s only goal is to take your information and run. This trade show attendee is a frustrating blend of Type A obsession with facts, figures and price points and mistrust of salespeople. You’ll know an Information Gatherer by the notebook full of hastily scribbled notes, product brochures with circled pricing information, and skittish demeanor that causes them to run when you ask for their information to follow up.

The Competitor

The “other guy” at the trade show, The Competitor, may saunter casually to your booth and ask very specific questions about your product or service that typical customers wouldn’t know to ask, including wholesale pricing or production costs. You’ll know The Competitor by his arms crossed over his branded polo shirt and because you walked by his booth earlier in the day.

The Serious Buyer

This trade show attendee visits your booth for a good reason: to buy your product. The Serious Buyer knows his objectives, and meets the elements of BANT: budget, authority, need, and time. He will have a budget in place, has the authority to select the vendor or can influence the person who does, has a need for your product, and has a timeframe for the potential purchase. The Serious Buyer will be upfront with their questions and concerns and forthcoming with their info for a follow up.


Although it’s great to meet potential customers of all kinds, the Serious Buyer attendees will make your trade show experience worth the time and money you put into it.

About the Author

Kristie Jones-Damalas is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing and a Partner of Skyline Event Services. Kristie’s goal is to help her clients get the most out of their trade show and event marketing. She believes that successful trade show and event marketing is innovative, interactive, inventive and challenging! Her passion is to help her clients with Cleveland trade show displays. For more information on trade show displays, trade show booths, and trade show exhibits in Cleveland, please visit

3 responses to “The 5 Types of People You’ll Meet At A Trade Show

  1. Love the Trick-or-Treaters label. Over the years, if noticed that food samples bring out the “Grazers” at trade shows…only difference is if they like the sample they’ll come back for more.

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